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(Tulelake) Pilot (Nick Macy) wins sixth (national) championship in Reno
Nick Macy’s average of 247 mph breaks speed record
By LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 10/7/12
H&N photos by Lee Juillerat

Nick Macy, right, credits his cousin Tom, left, and others with helping him to win six titles at the National Championship Air Races. He won his most recent last month.

NEWELL — When Nick Macy is racing Six-Cat, his single-engine World War II-era airplane, he prefers seeing his competitors through his rearview mirror.

That’s just what he did at last month’s National Championship Air Races in Reno, where Macy won the title in the AT-6 division for the sixth time since 1999.

With considerable help from his crew, Macy keeps getting faster. When he won the title in 2006, his average speed was about 236 mph. At this year’s races, he twice broke the speed record — once in the preliminaries and again in the finals, where his average air speed was 247 mph.

“We’ve been working on the airplane to make it faster,” Macy, 56, says. He and his crew have worked to help the Six-Cat stay ahead of the competition by trimming weight and tweaking the engine.

“I get all the glory. They don’t get enough credit for what they do,” he says.

His crew is led by his cousin Tom Macy and Bill Whitlatch, his “genius engineer.”

“It takes a combined effort to win,” he says.

This year’s races, which he describes as “like the Indy 500 and Daytona both put in one,” were Sept. 13 to 16 in Reno. After two rounds of qualifying, he flew the hexagon-shaped 5-mile course in 1:12 in the finals to win the AT-6 class.

AT-6s were used as advanced training planes for WWII-era pilots. Six-Cat has been in Macy’s family since 1966 when his father, Paul, bought the crop dusting flying service he renamed Macy’s Flying Service. Based in Newell, Macy took over operations in 1985.

“Ag flying is kind of the same thing,” he says comparing flying crop dusters to competing in the air races. “Crop dusting is seat-of-the-pants flying. It keeps you tuned up and sharp. Flying close to the ground doesn’t bother me.”

His fascination with flying fast began when his father took him to his first national championships when he was 11 years old.

“I fell in love with it back then,” says Macy.

He earned his pilot’s license at 18, began crop dusting at

“We’re pretty fortunate to live here,” he says. The Klamath Basin offers generally good flying weather, spectacular scenery and skies generally free of other aircraft, he says.

Although June through August are his busiest months for crop dusting, Macy tries to get in 20 or 30 flying hours in Six-Cat before heading to Reno “so I feel comfortable.” Basin farmers generally prepare in advance because, as he explains, “They all know that after all this many years, I’m going.”

He plans to keep going.

“To be able to compete with the level of pilots who compete in Reno is really meaningful, and to see all that success for everybody on our crew is a big deal,” Macy says. “I’d like to keep going, as long as I’m safe and competitive and stay healthy. And as long as it’s fun.”




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